How to Care for Live Crickets
~ Handling Crickets ~
For all you reptile owners out there, I’m sure you know how difficult it can be to keep your crickets alive long enough to feed your animal. More often than not, a good portion of them are dead either on arrival or soon after. The result is you having through throw out many dollars-worth of live feed. It’s not a good feeling, is it?
So, unless you plan on breeding your own crickets, you need to know how to care for live crickets from the time they arrive at your door. As soon as possible after your cricket shipment arrives, take them out of the box they came in; this can be tricky, and you’ll have to develop your own system for this. Otherwise, you WILL have crickets running all over your house! Not a truly bad thing, it’s just that you didn’t order them to be your house pets.
I went out and bought a tall plastic storage container – one that the crickets can’t jump out of. They also can’t climb the smooth surface of the plastic. I cut out some rectangular shapes on either end and taped metal screening over the opening so that the crickets can breathe and have oxygen.
Keep the egg crates that came in the shipping boxes. Crickets always seek out dark spaces, and these are perfect for that. I also save toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for this reason as well. I supply plenty of dark space so that they’re not all clamoring for the same little spaces.
Quantities of 1,000 crickets or more will need at minimum a 10-gallon container. (Crickets over a ½” will need a 15+ gallon container with a depth of at least 15”.)
You can also buy “Cricket Keepers” at various pet stores. These come with tubes that the crickets can climb up in and are quite handy. However, if you have too many crickets in one tube, the ones at the end of the tube tend to die quickly. They get squashed, or lack oxygen, or can’t get to their food or nutrition, etc. The larger ones are supposed to be good for 200 crickets, but I find that a little too crowded.
Crickets can endure heat but are sensitive to colder temperatures. Winter shipments of crickets that appear lifeless are usually in a state of hibernation. Allow your crickets to warm up to room temperature for two or three hours before passing judgment on their condition. The cold temperatures can cause the crickets to become dormant, but after a few hours at room temperature, they usually perk right up.
The ideal range of temperature for your live crickets should be between 70° – 75° F, which is critical for proper function of crickets’ metabolism and immune system. Do not expose crickets to direct sunlight, high humidity, or drafts of cold air.
Keep your cricket containers clean at all times to ensure a healthier, longer life for your crickets. Keep your container free of all dead crickets and waste material. Rinse it out with hot water or a mild bleach solution.
Pesticides or cleaning solutions, other than a mild bleach solution, should NEVER be used to clean your cricket container. Make sure your container is dry before adding more crickets as can drown in very little water. If you keep up with this simple maintenance, your crickets should live to be a lasting supply of live feed for your pet.
How to Care for Live Crickets – Feeding and Watering
Crickets are relatively easy to keep. They need basic food and water to survive, and when well taken care of, they will remain a good, active supply of live crickets to feed your pet for weeks. Always have on hand a dry food source and a separate water source for your crickets.
You can buy dry cricket food, available at all pet stores and from live cricket retailers, or you can feed them oatmeal or cornmeal from your kitchen. Other food sources are chicken mash or chick starter, available at feed stores. Be sure to change the food out weekly, or as needed. Do not let it get damp or moldy.
Having water available to your crickets at all times is crucial. One of the quickest ways to kill crickets is to take them away from their water source, but also know, again, that crickets drown very quickly, which is why we do not recommend you have an open pool of water near your crickets. Your “watering device” can be a simple damp sponge sitting on a shallow plate, but check it daily to make sure it is damp!
You can also buy “cubes” which are known as “Water Bites.” Or, you can buy “Total Bites,” which is a combination of both water and nutrients for your crickets. You will often receive your shipment of crickets with either Water Bites or Total Bites, as well a chunk of potato.
Potatoes serve as both a water and a food source. However, do not use potatoes as a daily food source for your crickets because potatoes can cause a damp environment that if left for more than three days can be harmful to our species of cricket.
I hope you have learned how to care for live crickets! Good luck!
SOURCE: Armstrong Crickets
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